On religious belief, the World Socialist Movement takes up a position derived from Marx that religion is an expression of human alienation, of the fact that humans are not in control of their destiny but are the playthings of uncontrollable, impersonal economic and social forces and resort to religion to console themselves and to try to make sense of this. This is why, unlike many well-known atheists, non-political rationalists and freethinkers, it holds that no amount of mere criticism, useful and necessary as such, can finally end religion. Only the coming of world socialism can do that, by abolishing the social antagonisms which necessitate its existence.
There are among religious people many good and genuine citizens who could be very useful to society, who are prepared to sacrifice everything for their principles, such as nuns who take holy order and renounce marriage and motherhood to dedicate their lives to helping the poor, the aged or the sick. There are also hundreds of thousands of workers for churches who hope to leave this world a better place than they find it, and who are seriously interested in peace the betterment of the human race, and the alleviation of suffering. Christians often claim that their religion is a comfort in times of trouble, but in politics and also in conflicts, they hold a hopeless philosophical position, like a rudderless ship in a stormy sea.
Because of this they easily become victims of wily politicians and instead of helping to make a better world, find themselves unintentionally supporting corrupt regimes and devoting their lives to maintaining these systems. Their naive blindness to the real nature and background of religion prevents them from seeing clearly the material tasks of this life.
The greatest curse of humanity is ignorance. The only remedy is knowledge. Science needs investigation and criticism. Religion is opposed to both these.
The World Socialist Movement takes the realistic view of mankind’s problems and looks on the miracles of the Bible, the virgin birth, the resurrection, life after death and all the paraphernalia of religion as barriers to social progress. It is difficult to understand how any educated person can take it seriously, and hard to believe that millions of people still consider stories that are the equivalent of fairy tales, to be true.
Christians might do well to follow the advice of the Bible (1. Cor. 13.11)
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put aside childish things.”
So long as they are tied to the Bible, working people can never put aside childish beliefs which prevent them from understanding socialism.
It is quite obvious that if Christians are guided by the Bible and the priests, they cannot be expected to see through the much more subtle propaganda of the politicians on life’s more important matters.
One must oppose religion because it stands in the way of socialism and the understanding the latter necessitates. There are many who ask, why are socialists against religion?
Why did Marx write: “Religion is the opium of the people”?
A person under the influence of narcotics or alcohol cannot be expected to make a good socialist unless freed from these and then there is at least there is a chance.
One cannot hope to change the world if the ideas that have made it remain unchallenged.
“Philosophers up to know have merely interpreted the world; what we have to do is change it.” Karl Marx.
Those who think religion is necessary to mankind and that it has a salutary influence, are usually very vague as to what constitutes a religion.
Religion does not mean leading a good life, it is not sharing your possessions with the poor, it is not turning the other cheek when assaulted, or loving your neighbour. All these are problems of ethics and morality, so often confused with religion. Christianity as well as other religions have their moral and ethical codes.
Socialists, like Christians, seek to help their fellows and to do no harm to another. They try to be kind, courteous and considerate to the wishes of others – these are things that so many people think are religious principles. In fact, socialists are doing their bit to better mankind in spreading the knowledge of socialism, and are often despised for it.
Religion is a system of absurd anachronistic beliefs accompanied by threats to non-believers and promises of rewards for the pious. In some cases, it seems to be a pathological condition (what disease is to the body, religion is to the mind), where the person suppresses his reasoning power in certain directions. He or she accepts statements from the Bible as being beyond dispute, statements someone would reject completely if read elsewhere. Religion has been described as a “psychological purgative for imaginary sins.”
Religion is superstition running away from the truth and afraid of being overtaken. This is because religion is based on belief. The many references to belief in the New Testament make it clear that “faith” is the basis of Christianity.
Religion is not a revelation, but the product of evolution as all forms of ideas and culture. No matter if fundamentalists reject evolution, their religion and all it contains has been the product of evolution. Even the idea of God evolved.
Originally, religion was a belief in the existence of supernatural beings, and the observance of rites and ceremonies in order to avert their anger or gain their goodwill. “Corpse worship”, as religion has been called.
Religion is woven like a threat into the texture of human society from the early times to the present day. It is based upon mankind’s ignorance of natural forces and has been propped up by rulers as a means of keeping slaves in subjection.
Religion was developed by primitive mankind to explain natural phenomena such as storms, earthquakes, volcanoes etc. To their non-scientific minds when the avalanche fell, the rocks were angry, when the volcano belched forth lava and poisoned gases, the mountain was furious, when the ground rumbled and cracked in an earthquake, the subterranean world was enraged.
Mankind saw everything in its own image. When our mental development had advanced a stage further it was the mountain spirit and the river spirit and the earth spirit that was angry, and we commenced to devise means to placate angry spirits.
It was here the priesthood emerged and what was eventually to become the Church, that has across the ages, supported tyranny, and reaped much profit in the process. Shamans became the imaginary bulwark of mankind against the forces of nature and society, and religion a refuge when life was growing too precarious.
In the early civilisations, the priesthood was wealthy and powerful and chattel slavery and the poor toiled for its benefit. How powerful it was has been clearly shown by the treasures and manuscripts found in the ancient tombs of the rulers. By holding out the threat of eternal damnation on the unfaithful the priesthood accumulated vast wealth and property and stood behind the whips of the slave-driver.
Each new religion starting with the will of the oppressed has ended with the power of a new oppressor. Privileged classes learned early the value of religion and used it ruthlessly to support their domination.
All religion is based on faith and faith is an illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible. It is belief without evidence in a preacher without knowledge about things without parallel. Christian faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason, it is believing in something which your common sense tells you must be wrong. All this is in direct opposition to socialism, and cannot possibly be reconciled with or incorporated into socialism.
Let the believers have their Heaven, while we give the bosses Hell and take this World for the workers